Heritage Patriots crush the Dons

Heritage players celebrated as the sixth-seed Patriots beat the third-seed Acalanes Dons 5-1 in the North Coast Section Division 1 Baseball Championship quarterfinal in Lafayette, Calif., Friday, May 17, 2019. The Patriots advance to face Amador Valley in the semifinals, Tuesday, May 21 at Amador Valley High School. (Tony Kukulich/The Press)

The sixth-seed Heritage baseball team entered its quarterfinal playoff game as underdogs with third-seed Acalanes Friday night.

But the Patriots did anything but play the part.

The Patriots’ Bryce Arana went 2 for 3 with two RBI, Keith Jones drove in another run, and pitchers Reece Dexter and Jeffrey Heinrich held the Dons to one run on four hits, as Heritage emerged 5-1 winners.

Heritage (20-6) will travel to second-seed Amador Valley at 5 p.m. on Tuesday for the right to play for a North Coast Section Division 1 championship.

“These guys are just really resilient, and they got the job done,” said Heritage head coach Kevin Brannan.

Arana’s sixth-inning RBI single, scoring Ryan Troye, broke a one-all tie, and the Patriots padded their lead with three runs in the top of the seventh while batting around to pull out the victory.

Starter Dexter held the Dons (23-3) to one run on four hits and struck out five in 4/2/3 innings, before Heinrich held Acalanes hitless the rest of the way while striking out two.

“When Heinrich came in, you could just tell he really wanted the ball, and we kind of just let him go and do his thing,” Brannan said. “He was on tonight, and that is going to be big going forward — that confidence he can carry over into Tuesday’s game and hopefully beyond that.”

Heritage cycled through four Dons’ pitchers, with four runs coming off Nick Kresnak, who surrendered four hits and two walks in one inning of work.

The Patriots' Ryan Jackson went 3 for 3 at the plate with a run scored, and Tom Rover, Chaz Myers, Casey Turturici, and Troye each added a hit.

Jones’ third-inning sacrifice fly off Dons’ starter Logan Hurd scored Myers, giving Heritage a 1-0 lead, but Cole Murgia’s fifth-inning double off Dexter scored Davis Diaz to tie the game at one for the Dons.

But the Patriots immediately bounced back.

Arana’s sixth-inning single, scoring Troye from second, gave Heritage a 2-1 lead, and three more Patriots runs crossed the plate in the seventh, when Heritage racked up three singles and three walks—all the hits and two of the walks off Kresnak—and sent nine batters to the plate.

Jackson’s single, the third of three to lead off the inning, scored Rover to put Heritage up 3-1, and a wild pitch and a bases-loaded walk later in the inning brought home Heritage’s fourth and fifth runs.

"They [the Patriots] feed off each other,” Brannan said. “We got that little rally going and just kept it going.”

Heritage now turns its attention to second-seed Amador Valley (22-4) for the right to play the winner of top-seed De La Salle (27-1) and fourth-seed Foothill (20-7) for the North Coast Section Division 1 title.

“They are a quality club,” Brannan said. “They are a well-coached team. We played them before in the playoffs. I am not expecting anything but a good, quality club when we show up on Tuesday. We’ll take our chances.”